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Build strength to improve quality of life with these four strength training tips.
Physical fitness is important for people of all ages, but it becomes even more impactful as you age. Working out can slow the natural degenerative effects of aging by strengthening your bones, muscles and joints, keeping your cardiovascular system healthy, and reducing the risk of injury. As a result, an appropriate training regimen can help you maintain a more desirable lifestyle and the ability to increase longevity.
Strength training plays a large role in any fitness routine, but there are certain things you should consider if you’re an older adult.
1. Focus on functional fitness
One of the primary goals of fitness for older adults is to maintain the ability to comfortably perform day-to-day tasks like lifting objects, sitting down and climbing stairs. Some great strength-training movements that also support functional activities include:
- Stair climbing
- Chest presses
- Torso rotation holding medicine ball
- Arm raises
- Tricep presses
- Bicep curls
2. Use the right amount of weight
When it comes to strength training, opt for more repetitions of lower weight rather than trying to lift as much as possible. You should be able to lift a weight with proper form for 8 to12 repetitions. If you can do 12 repetitions easily, increase the weight — don’t be timid. Your workouts should be challenging but safe, so consider working with a personal trainer to find what weight is appropriate for you.
3. Don’t stop training
Thinking about skipping a few workouts? Think again. As you age, it becomes harder to bounce back from quitting or taking a break from fitness. You lose the benefits of an active lifestyle — more muscle mass, better cardiovascular health and coordination — which can result in a lower quality of life.
Not only do you lose progress, but once you stop training, it’s hard to restart. To avoid this setback, adhere to a regular workout schedule and don’t quit unless medically necessary. If your regular workouts are no longer safe, work with a personal trainer (and always get approval from your doctor) to adjust or rework your routine to fit your physical limitations.
4. Perform joint-friendly movements
Aging naturally weakens joints, and you generally don’t want to add to the problem by performing too many high-impact workouts. Complement your strength training with low-impact activities, such as: swimming, elliptical training, walking, water aerobics, cycling, rowing machine, Pilates, yoga and step aerobics. And do not forget your daily practice of mobility and flexibility training to keep your tissues hydrated and your joints free of restrictions and ready for movement.
By following these tips and performing a well-rounded training plan, you should be able to reduce the toll of aging while living life to the fullest.
Photo credit: ThinkStock, moodboard